Friday, August 07, 2009

Museum of disABILITY History

I was reading about Eunice Kennedy Shriver's failing health,, which made me think of all the work she has done on behalf of those who are disabled and that made me think about Rosemary Kennedy.

Rosemary Kennedy, sister to Eunice, was incapacitated by a lobotomy in her early 20's. Many of us have ancestors or family who have been subjected to asylum's, risky procedures and incarceration for mental health issues.

The Museum of disABILITY History,, has a great website that includes interactive displays and a library of collections having to do with the historical aspects of disabilities.

The home page explains:

This online wing of the Museum of disABILITY History complements our freestanding "bricks and mortar" Museum and our traveling exhibits.

The Museum of disABILITY History is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum's exhibits, collections, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

The Museum of disABILITY History is open Monday-Friday, 10:00AM – 4:00PM, or by appointment. The Museum is closed on holidays. Admission is Free. For Group Tours, please call to make an appointment. The Museum is located at 1291 North Forest Road, Williamsville, NY...

The Museum is...dedicated to the collection, preservation and display of artifacts pertaining to the history of people with disabilities.

Those with New York ancestors, may be interested in the map of New York institutions from the 1600's to 1950 ,

You can search their collections online at A search of the collections on the term "women", brings up some great historical books, reports, newspaper articles and postcards. While the books are not digitized, they do provide the complete citation so that you could go on to look for it at Google Books or World Cat.

By clicking on the the button on the left side "Random Images' you are provided with random images of items from the collection.

This is a great website to learn more about the history of people with disabilities and get a better sense of how people in years past were treated or how they weren't treated. A must for genealogists who have any ancestor who was blind, deaf, physically or mentally handicapped.


Lisa Louise Cooke said...

Gena, Thanks for bringing this terrific site to our attention. What a great resource for when we inevitably come across those in our family tree who lived with disabilities. Another important key to understanding what their lives may have been like. And the website is very creatively done. Thanks, Lisa

Pat said...

I just discovered your blog, and this post. I have recently read the book "Annie's Ghosts" and posted on my own blog about family secrets (esp. of this type). Thanks for the Museum site and this information. Pat Salt

Pat said...

Thanks for this site! I just found your blog and this post - and I have recently finished reading "Annie's Ghosts" which is about the family secret of mental illness. I posted about it on my blog ( because I was struck by how many people have a family member with some sort of disability and often it is kept a secret. Thanks again! Pat Salt